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Hanson: Snowed In: Virginia

Hanson was scheduled to play the Uncorked and Unplugged event in Williamsburg, VA on December 9th.  At first I wasn’t going to attend because it was on a Sunday and 7-8 hours away, but my friend and I tried to figure out a plan and decided if we could get the VIP Meet & Greet tickets we would make it work.  After one of the most stressful ticket on sales that I have had to deal with in a while, the site crashed, we thought we may end up with multiple pairs of tickets and then finally finding a 30% off coupon that saved us some decent money our M&G tickets were confirmed!

About a week before the show, weather reports started saying that a storm might be coming through. We kept an eye on it and it moved south and we were only supposed to get rain in that area.  Then a couple days before it shifted again.  We headed to the Richmond, VA area the night before and the weather report said a dusting to 2 inches in Williamsburg, turning to rain.  Richmond was due for 4-8 inches.  With that information, we decided we could handle the trek and made our way to the winery.

Our tickets included a pre-show reception with champagne, oysters, a wine tasting and other snacks. I am not a wine fan but I did try a couple and was not impressed.  There was a string quartet playing a mix of Holiday tunes and pop hits (we walked in to them playing Taylor Swift. Yuck)  In addition to meeting Hanson we also got a M&G with Brynn Elliott, who I wasn’t sure any of her songs until she sang one during the show and I realized I had heard it on the radio.  The Hanson M&G was photos only and a quick hello, but we weren’t expecting anything more than that.

After the M&G we headed down to the tent where the concert would be held and waited for them to let us in – both times entering we were subject to incredibly intense security checks. It was not that easy to figure out where we needed to go for our seats – but we ended up making it to the front row.  Hanson had their acoustic set up so we were in front of Zac.

The “heated” tent was not that heated, I took my coat off for a bit just because it was soaking wet from being in the snow for 30 or so minutes waiting to be let inside, but ended up putting it back on for the rest of the show.  Heather Murphy was up first, I guess she is a local singer and did 1 original song and a whole ton of covers.  I kind of wondered why her set was so long, but it is what it is. (She did have a nice voice, I’m just not one to want to sit through a bunch of covers)  Brynn was up next – the radio station had to “stall” for 5 minutes before she was ready to take the stage and that was pure torture.  Her set seemed much shorter than Heather’s but was much more enjoyable.

Then it was time for HANSON!!! The set was a pretty generic festival set with most of the singles.  They did end up adding I Will Come To You based on the request of one of the radio DJs. (Who apparently asked them for it by the wrong name and Zac called her out on it before they started playing it.)  Near the end of the set, we could see a lot of commotion off to the side of the stage and then the guys were being yelled at to do just one more song – but they hadn’t gotten to MMMBop yet.  I did notice that the snow that was supposed to stop and turn to rain had not. (I always was told once the flakes started getting bigger it meant that the snow was going to stop soon – which was not the case.)  They ended up doing a shortened version of MMMBop and then Taylor was *determined* to fit in one more.  They were calling for the guys to come off the stage and it looked like they cut power to Taylor’s keyboard but he was still trying to play something.  In the end, they did White Christmas acapella and then told us we had to go because the tent had too much snow on it.  A lot of people came up front to try and get setlists, etc.  We were able to snap a photo of it just before one of Hanson’s crew got on stage and said we had to GO.  At that point I hadn’t turned around yet, and once I did I knew we had to get out ASAP because the roof was definitely being heavily weighed down by snow. We started throwing chairs out of the way to get out at that point since people were still blocking the way up front and got outside.  According to some of the radio DJs about 20 minutes later the back of the tent started to cave in.  We got to the car and started to clear it off and heat everything up and decide what we wanted to do.  It took us about an hour and a half just to get out of the grounds of the winery because cars were stuck, trees were down and the roads were a mess.  The dusting to 2 inches was more like 4 – and still coming down.

We decided to try and make it back to PA, but had a heck of a time once the GPS rerouted us off the highway and everywhere we went trees were down and the situation just was getting worse and worse the further we went.  Props to my friend who was able to navigate the roads and keep us safe – I am sure I would have had us in a ditch trying to weave around the trees. (And we did see a car just like mine in a ditch at one point.) After being forced to turn around because of a tree only to go back the way we came to be met with ANOTHER tree, we didn’t know what to do. Visions of being stuck on that road for the night in the snow were dancing around in my head. Fortunately 2 angels were in the cars in front of us and were able to pull the tree down so we could pass.  We stopped at a gas station to use the facilities and regroup – and decided the best thing to do was to turn around and go back to Williamsburg.  We had gone 20 miles in 2 hours and still had 30 miles to go to get back to the highway – and head to the Richmond area which had a FOOT of snow.

I booked a room at a Holiday Inn via the app… only to arrive and be told they didn’t have our reservation and that they were fully booked. (And then I was charged as a “no show” – how you gonna charge me for a room that didn’t even exist? But a refund is in the works now – they had no internet access to connect with the app system so the app didn’t know they were full to not allow me to book.)  We ended up calling a Hampton Inn and they had a room and power – apparently half the town lost power.  I’m not surprised, all the trees were getting weighed down and I’m sure many a tree came down on a power line.  We made it to the hotel, and the next morning everything was much, much easier to navigate and we made it home in good time.  Instead of working from the office a half day I worked from my friends place and ended up making great time back home as well. (So glad I have an understanding boss!)

Hindsight is 20/20 – I’m sure there are a lot of things we would have done differently had we known that the forecast was going to be so off base.  I am sure that the winery, event coordinators and radio stations would have as well.  And I am sure that if Taylor knew the tent was going to start caving in 20 minutes later (just before their set was supposed to end) he wouldn’t have fought so hard to try and squeeze in one last song. By the time we realized the snow was out of control – it was way too late to move on to a plan B.  I am just glad we ended up safe, were able to maneuver the car when it almost got stuck and didn’t end up stuck overnight in the snow on a road barricaded in by trees.  Things were not ideal, but things could have been so much worse.

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Hanson String Theory: Boston, Philly, NYC

Recently I had my last 3 US String Theory shows for the year in Boston, Philly & NYC.  Since they are all big (obnoxious) sports towns, I was a bit curious to see how that might transfer to the catcalling during the shows since Zac had to write a blog post on Hanson.net about how to behave at the shows (that were probably just preaching to the choir.)

For Boston we were 3rd row in front of Zac, which may have skewed the sound just a bit and made the drums a lot louder than intended.  Crowd wise there was some catcalling but everyone at least in our general area followed the “don’t stand until the last 3-4 songs” rule.  Boston gets a bad rep for being overly obnoxious but my eye rolls were limited.  The seats however must have been original to the 1800s – next to 0 leg room (and I am SHORT! A guy in front of us had to be 6’4” OR MORE and I felt so, so bad for him) and were practically on the ground.  Once I sat I had no idea how I was going to get back up – it definitely took effort towards the end of the show!  Zac was super smiley and looking at us a lot – I think because he is so used to being so far away and blocked from everyone, this tour he really got to goof off a bit with the people up front! He seemed to be having a blast!

For Philly we were 3rd row in front of Taylor, which honestly may be the best angle to get.  Positioned correctly, mics won’t be blocking the piano and cymbals won’t be blocking Zac. (I had a few shows this tour where I fell victim to ‘cymbal face’) If I had to guess before the show I’d have thought his crowd would be the worst (they are known to boo Santa!) but honestly I think this was the best crowd – despite many not being even let inside the doors before Hanson had already started. (I love that there’s no “Hanson Time” this tour – but when there is a line of people nearly around the block, you can’t push things back 5-10 minutes?  They didn’t come on until 8:10 in Boston!)  I knew something was up when the 3 didn’t take a bow after bowing with the maestro and backup musicians.  Since it was Veteran’s Day the 3 came back out and did the National Anthem.

New York City was back at the Beacon after 21 years! (Not 20, the first show was August 1997. It’s math, people.) I had not won my way in back in 1997 (not for lack of trying!) so it was awesome to finally see them there after wishing it would happen for so long!  This crowd was by far the worst, standing wise.  A few people here and there would pop up during the songs they knew (ie MON songs) and by the 2nd act everyone was up from the start.  I knew that the mood of the songs would lead to an up-down-up-down reaction so I opted to sit until I knew we were supposed to be “up”, per Zac’s post.  This show we were around 8 rows back on Zac’s side and you know I had seen it “too many times” (no such thing) because I started watching the orchestra more than Hanson (and maybe because we were a bit further back and I could see them pretty unobstructed without the guys right in front of me) and found myself a fun, cute violinist to watch and also a cute clarinetist (when he wasn’t blocked by Isaac.)  This show I also finally “got” MMMBop being included – at my 6 previous shows it just didn’t seem to fit in with the orchestra but somehow it sounded totally different at this show.  Being further back + a venue made for really great acoustics may have made the difference. (My first show I was the furthest back, 10 rows, but I may not have picked up on everything since I was taking it all in for the first time.)

 

There is still one more (non string theory) Hanson show for me this year, then it is off around the world to see them in Jamaica and Australia in 2019.  I am getting so close to my 200th show… I currently have tickets for up to #199!  Where will #200 end up being? I’m guessing Tulsa but we’ll see!

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Hanson String Theory – Atlanta & Nashville

Near the end of October I made a trip to Atlanta and Nashville to see Hanson’s String Theory Tour.   We had Friday in Atlanta to sightsee so we hit up World of Coke (pro tip – if you have a free ticket in your coke app, screen cap it because it will eat it before you get to the museum to redeem it!) and the Georgia Aquarium.   World of Coke was fun – we had a lot of fun in the tasting room trying all the different sodas from around the world and trying to not stick to the floor.  I really liked the blue raspberry Fanta and of course SURGE… both from North America but I think I did try at least 1 from each of the areas available.  The aquarium was a lot of fun too, we hit up the dolphin show, saw some otters, lots of fish, penguins… and finally found Nemo in the last place we looked! Saturday we took it easy until it was time to leave for the show, found a spot for dinner and headed to the Symphony Hall.  We had 3rd row center for this show and it was my closest show yet, we were between Isaac and Zac and the show was a lot of fun.  Not as great of sound as Denver, but good!  After the show we hung around for a bit to see if we could catch a glimpse of the guys getting on the bus (we did) and then headed to Chattanooga, halfway to Nashville, for the night.  When our hotel breakfast had the tiniest cinnamon rolls and “bagels for babies”, we hit the diner across the street for a real breakfast before heading to Nashville.  We got ready for the show, ubered to the wings mural and took some pre-show photos before grabbing dinner and heading to the venue.  It was FREEZING in Nashville. I had brought my winter coat and was glad I did!   For this show we had front row, all the way over to the side and it turned out to actually be a really great view – no symbol face for Zac and not as far over as the seating chart on the website had led us to believe.  I spotted “Slim” who plays guitar for Lady A (but used to play for Curtis Peoples) and Paul McDonald in the crowd and I’m sure there were more familiar faces around as well.  While the setlist is the same every night the show is not – and Zac sang “now that I’ve started…” at the beginning of chasing down my dreams but… no one else had started so he had to start again.  In addition to the mishaps, there is also a different feel with each orchestra and each maestro. (And Nashville’s happened to be adorable)  talking to Isaac after the show he said that he could notice a difference with each orchestra, their timing, loudness, etc.  I think my favorite shows in order are: Denver, Nashville, Atlanta, Pittsburgh.  I probably won’t be able to keep a ranking up with like 9 or 10 more shows to go. (Though I bet the Sydney Opera House will be up there. Yeah… I’m going back to Australia!)

 

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Hanson at The Big E

Friday September 14th was the first day of the Big E and Hanson was the entertainment for the evening at the Court of Honor Stage.  After finding “handicapped” parking in a pile of mud, we rode a golf cart to the main entrance, took a bit of a walk around and realized 2nd row was up for grabs for the show.  We hit up one of the fried food stations for lunch (funnel cake and deep fried oreos – lunch of champions) and then snagged a spot in the 2nd row for the day, knowing we would be seeing Street Beat at 1pm and 6pm and Blessid Union of Souls at 3pm.  We also had a good laugh that you couldn’t bring any weapons inside – but wonder knifes and the like were readily available for purchase once you made it inside of the fair.

Street Beats first performance left something to be desired, but the second they used a lot of kids as their volunteers from the audience and that seemed to make things a lot more fun and exciting.  Blessid Union of Souls was a pleasant surprise – I had remembered “Hey Leonardo” from the 90s but had completely forgotten they also had a hit with “I Believe”  The lead singer wore a shiny shirt that had to have not been able to breathe at ALL… and he was covered in sweat by the end of their awesome 1 hour set.

Hanson came out for a soundcheck which drew in quite a crowd – many not realizing that it was not their actual set until after they left. (Are there really people out there that think they only play their songs only halfway through during concerts?)  The crowd got larger and larger until the show started at 8pm and I never did manage to turn around to see just how big the crowd got but was told by friends who were in the back that the crowd went allllll the way back.  (Maybe if the have Hanson back they will get to play the bigger stage next time!)  They did a set mixed of hits and other fan favorites and although I probably would have pulled a couple of songs out of the set if I was in charge of making the list, it was a pretty solid setlist.  Very high energy for about an hour and a half!

My one regret was giving up waiting for the guys to come out after the show – when we left and just ended up in stand-still traffic on the highway anyway due to an accident.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20

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Hanson String Theory Denver

When the Denver, CO date was initially announced I said I was *not* going even though I could have pulled off going for the weekend using NO vacation days at all.  Once I saw the layout of the venue, I ended up getting myself a ticket and started planning the trip.  Initially I decided to fly in on Saturday and out on Sunday, but realized with it being a Friday off from work and the Rockies were in town (For 90s night, no less) it was worth it to cross off hitting up Coors Field for a game from the Bucket List.

The Rockies played the Los Angeles Dodgers and oddly enough, two of the members of the team have a bit of a Hanson connection.  Yasiel Puig was in an ESPN Sports Center commercial that featured “MMMBop” as an “at-bat song” and Joc Pederson had his at-bat music high jacked a few years back to “MMMBop” which resulted in him hitting a grand slam.  The Hanson connection must have worked in the Dodgers favor as they ended up beating the Rockies 4-2. (And sadly, my Rockies fave, Charlie Blackmon, went 0-5 on the night.)

 

Saturday we ended up hitting up the 16th Street Mall for a bit as well as taking a trek out to Red Rocks to see the Amphitheater and the surrounding area.  I was the only one of the group that had been there before so I got to play a bit of “tour guide” and point out where Hanson’s name was on the wall under 1998 – and we were happy to see that it was added for the 2015 show I had attended there as well!

Saturday evening it was time for my 2nd String Theory show.  The venue was just as exciting as I had hoped and the sound was 100x better than I had imagined it would be.  In Pittsburgh, a lot of the songs seemed to be drowned out by Hanson and I wasn’t sure if they were just playing too loudly and the orchestra too softly or if the sound mix wasn’t quite on par or if that’s just how everything was going to end up sounding.  In Denver I had none of those questions and everything sounded completely amazing.  The conductor/maestro Christopher Dragon was also a pleasure to watch as he absolutely got into it the whole show.  Honestly, I think I was watching him more than Hanson for the majority of the show.  From my view he definitely stole the show!  I wish that he could just join the entire tour, he was that great.

The problem with writing this review a week removed from the show is now I can’t remember any of the highlights I had wanted to mention.  This show seemed to go by much, much quicker than the Pittsburgh show, I am not sure if it is because I knew what was coming or because it sounded so amazing and I just didn’t want it to ever end.  Much like Pittsburgh, there seemed to be a natural progression with people deciding to stand up near the end of the show during I Was Born.  Me Myself and I was the song that made me tear up (but not Broken Angel like last show) and there may have been one in the 2nd part as well but I can’t remember now.  It’s kind of funny how the same setlist can hit you in an entirely different way based on what lyrics you are intently paying attention to and what might be going on in your life at that moment.  I’m glad I have Hanson concerts and weekends with my Hanson friends to run away to.

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Hanson String Theory Pittsburgh

If you are trying to stay spoiler free for Hanson’s latest tour, String Theory, then this is a post you are going to want to bookmark and come back to after you have seen the show.  I will be discussing how the show went and include the setlist so this is your warning to leave the page now…

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The Pittsburgh String Theory originally appeared to be the first show of the tour which is why I tried really hard to be there.  Then they added Columbus before hand but that show ended up being a shortened set, so in a way this show was kind of sort of the first show.

Heinz Hall was a beautiful venue and it was fun to see the varying degree of outfits for the show.  Some were dressed to the nines and others had on Hanson tees and jeans as if it was a regular concert.  I was hoping that everyone would sit for the entire show, and while some did try to stand at various points throughout the set (and some opted to dance along the side walls so as not to disturb everyone else) a few songs before the end we were encouraged to stand.  I still opted not to because the seat was LOW and I wasn’t even sure I could get up – and could still see Zac while sitting anyway 😛

Most of the show I was just in awe.  Some of the songs sounded as if they belonged on a movie soundtrack with the addition of the symphony.  Some songs sounded very different than what I was used to, while others just seemed enhanced with the symphony, and others the band almost seemed to drown the symphony out at times.  It was fun to “ignore” Isaac, Taylor and Zac at times and just watch the musicians behind them at times – how they waited for their cue and all started at just the precise right moments.  I didn’t sing along too much, because my jaw spent a lot of time on the floor.  I am glad that I am seeing it several more times throughout the rest of this year and next because in addition to each different symphony putting their own touches on things, I am sure there are little intricacies in the music that I will only pick up on after seeing/hearing it a few times. (And I am very much so looking forward to the CD release in the fall – including an instrumental version!)

The show starts with Reaching for the Sky Part 1 – a new song that was supposedly written for Anthem but didn’t make the cut.  This show gave me 4 new songs on my “songs heard live list” – Reaching For The Sky Pts 1 and 2 (Zac counted them as 2 separate on Hanson.net and with Pt 2 being cut in Columbus for song counting purposes they kind of have to continue to be considered separate), Dream It Do It, and Battle Cry.

After the set was done, the crowd gave Hanson a standing ovation and they came back out for an “encore”, but not having anything else scored, they gave us a little bit of This Time Around acapella.

The guys also changed their usual positions on stage – “Isaac’s side” is now “Taylor’s side”, Zac being in the middle is now Isaac in the middle and “Taylor’s side” is now “Zac’s side”.  This may be something to keep in mind if you care where your seats are near when purchasing tickets!

Reaching For The Sky (Part 1)
Joyful Noise
Where’s The Love
Dream It Do It
MMMBop
Chasing Down My Dreams
Tragic Symphony
Got a Hold On Me
Yearbook
Siren Call
Me Myself and I
INTERMISSION
Reaching For The Sky (Part 2)
This Time Around
Something Going Round
Battle Cry
You Can’t Stop Us
Broken Angel
What Are We Fighting For
Breaktown
No Rest For The Weary
I Was Born
Sound of Light
Tonight

Encore:
This Time Around (Chorus acapella)

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Hanson Day Tulsa 2018

2018 Hanson Day was my 10th trip to Tulsa, OK to see Hanson.  When I first started planning my trip back in 2009 I am pretty sure I billed it as a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to experience their home town.  In 2009 they recorded the Stand Up, Stand Up EP and there really weren’t any other events.  10 years later (and not really ‘consecutive hanson day’ events either – since 2010 was a Halloween event!) and it is fascinating to see not only how the Hanson event and activities have grown, but how Tulsa has continued to grow and flourish.

My trip started with some excitement. I had only 40 minutes to get off my plane from Hartford and onto my flight to Tulsa in Dallas.  When my shoes set off the metal detector upon arrival in Hartford, my gate was the furthest away and every flight around me was getting delayed due to weather, I was hoping I’d still make it and all the drama was working itself out early.  When the pilot came on and said we would be delayed 10 minutes because of weather and he hoped to make up the time during the flight but before landing told us we would be 5-8 minutes late, I started mentally preparing myself to drive from Dallas to Tulsa.  And when the jet bridge wouldn’t move to connect to the plane, I thought that any chance I had of making it was over. When we landed I was at the mercy of the wheelchair pusher. I informed him my flight was taking off VERY soon and let’s see if we could make it.  He was being thoroughly pessimistic about the whole thing – and then informed me that gate A8 was THE. LAST. GATE. In A.  Yet somehow, despite hearing “Flight 299 to Tulsa, you need to be on the plane NOW” we made it – and I wasn’t even the last one to board the plane.  Thanks American Airlines for holding that flight because if not it would have been Strike 3 for you.  (When I booked the flight it was an hour or so layover and they changed it on me)

Thursday morning our day kicked off waiting outside Ida Red to pick up an Albertane Tour 20th anniversary pint glass and try the special drink they had come up with.  After that we got our Hanson.net wristbands and hopped in line for the store.  I spent a new record amount of money, but in my defense I was picking up merch for 3 others in addition to myself.  Once you take out their totals,  I was pretty much on pace for my usual amount, despite being a bit underwhelmed with the merch this year. (But I’ll confess, that $100 blanket is beautiful and I can’t wait to put it on my bed.) Then there was some eating, some volunteering, some more eating and then it was time for some karaoke – where facebook and snapchat filters set me into a fit of hysterics.  Maybe I needed some sleep…

Friday we got I line for the gallery pretty early, and while there were some original paintings left by the time I entered, I opted to get a couple of prints instead. We also participated in the String Theory ball of yarn.  After the gallery it was time for group photos, so we headed down to Cain’s Ballroom for that.  We stopped at Prairie Brewpub for my first visit before getting ready for the Storytellers concert.  I was pretty nervous that they were going to play With You In Your Dreams and my fears came true when Taylor started mentioning that they wanted us to sing in a chorus.  The setlist was Albertane Tour throwback (and Money was a song I had never heard them perform live before) and I liked that they “themed” it to a 20th anniversary – but… I can really do without WYIYD for the foreseeable future.  Then it was time for the ST Leaders dinner where my cane almost took someone out… and I realized that IPA Cheddar Burger meant that the cheese had the beer in it… and was gross.  I ended up falling asleep instead of going to Taylor’s Dance Party that night. Oops.

Saturday we had a later day, starting off with the Listening Party of Zac’s special music project “The Machine”, it was definitely interesting… then we headed off to Pinot’s Pallette where we painted our own version of Zac’s pansy painting from the gallery.  I went roque – from the moment the instructor said “paint your canvas light blue” and mine was light orange.   I did a mixture of oranges, yellows and reds for my pansy.  It probably could have used more yellow, but overall it came out pretty good.  That night was the full Members Only Concert and I was really digging the 100% members only song setlist – until it got to the solos and then it kind of lost me… and then they played Where’s the Love which I love but am a bit sick of. (Honestly though I know I complain about the setlists but I’d rather be at a Hanson show with a (imo) lame setlist than pretty much anywhere else in the world. So.) After the concert we rushed off to Firkin Feast – and after the gross burger the night before I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, but I actually enjoyed 2 of the 4 beers that they offered after thinking I would never find a beer I would actually like, so that was a plus, and despite the menu not being at ALL what I would ever choose to eat, I ate each of my courses in its entirety and enjoyed it!

Sunday was The Hop Jam Beer & Music Festival.  Hanson wasn’t performing, which made things a bit less hectic and crowded.  I volunteered handing out fliers at the entrance with a great group of security guys (way better than the group I was with last year) and still had a chance to check out Paul McDonald’s set from my hotel room and some of Manchester Orchestra’s as well.  I was also pretty close to Guthrie Green which had the local bands playing and was pretty impressed with what I heard from there as well.

Monday it was time to go and my flight home was pretty uneventful except for the fact that the best flight I could get home for points on Southwest was to take a detour to Denver with a 4 hour layover.  I can’t complain, it was only $6 and I got to have a delicious Einstein Mac & Cheese bagel!

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Hanson at Sea World

When I found out that Hanson was coming to Sea World, I knew that I needed to be there. I didn’t realize quite how much of a whirlwind trip it was going to end up being, but I snagged myself a front row seat and then booked some flights.  When all was said and done, I left the airport at 5am, landed in Orlando at 8am and had a “free” day in Orlando.  With another winter storm coming to town Monday night into Tuesday, I ended up buying a flight for Sunday after already having booked a flight for Monday just in case.  I ended up leaving at 11:30pm on Sunday night, landing 2:30am on Monday morning, getting home at 3:30am, sleeping a few hours and going to work. Not one of my brighter ideas but my Monday night flight ended up canceled and I didn’t have to use any vacation days.  Worth it? Definitely.

The way Sea World was set up you were able to pick out your seat at 9am and then enjoy the park for the day instead of having to wait in line all day to get to the theater area.  We were able to do some shopping, some eating, and see some sea life.  We didn’t end up riding any rides, but it was a fun day all the same!  At 5pm the Hanson show began and I was just in front of Isaac in the front row.  The setlist was a pretty basic show that I was expecting, but there was a lot of energy from the guys and I had an absolute blast! And of course, ended up sun burned.

Although the show had a lot of backlash from some fans and some Sea World haters… the show and the day was a ton of fun and I really hope they will consider playing there again!

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Back to the Island 2018

This years Back to the Island was an interesting one. As Stephen Kellogg told me, I had to fight for it. And I really did.  I’m going to try to sum it all up in one post but if things get too wordy I’ll break it up a bit.

I was scheduled to fly out on Friday, a day before the activities began. A huge storm was coming in and earlier in the week they didn’t think it would be that bad, but by Wednesday snow totals kept creeping up and up and up.  Starting at a dusting to 3 inches when all was said and done I think they were saying we could get upwards of a foot (and I think that’s what we did end up getting).  Wednesday when I was at work, Southwest emailed me to let me know that my 5:45am flight out of Hartford was already canceled and calling them to reschedule they told me the earliest they could get me out to Jamaica was SUNDAY.  I canceled that flight all together and ended up booking a flight on American Airlines that would get me out at 8am and put me on the same flight to Jamaica with a friend (and later a second friend as well who also had gotten bumped due to the bombcyclone)  But by mid-day Thursday that flight was canceled so I was put on a 10am flight out of Hartford and a later flight into Jamaica.  I went to bed early and everything was still “On Time” – having no clue how the roads were going to look I left at 4:30am and got to the airport and my gate by 6am and we were supposed to start boarding at 9:30am to leave at 10.  Boarding was delayed and when we got on there seemed to be some drama because a couple had a dog on the flight with them but the paperwork didn’t say there would be a dog on the flight.  It turned out that dealing with this was the least of my worries.  My flight to Jamaica was delayed by an hour which was great because that gave me even more of a buffer as we still needed to de-ice which would add probably 30 minutes to our time.  But then we pulled away from the jet bridge only to return to it 5 minutes later – some valve that was needed for the engines to start was frozen shut and maintenance would have to manually open it. Then that didn’t work either and then we all had to get off the plane and well… there was no way we were leaving in time for me to get to Jamaica on Friday at that point.  I re-booked a flight out of Charlotte for Saturday morning, hoping that I would at some point end up in Charlotte on Friday night.  And I did – after being one of the lucky people on only one of FOUR flights out of Bradley that morning/afternoon that had this weird frozen valve issue.  (I guess it being so rare explained why no one started to heat up the plane at 6am when it was sitting at the gate with me, both of us doing nothing)

So Saturday morning I once again woke up around 4am having no idea how long security lines would be in Charlotte and once again spent far too much time doing nothing at a gate at the airport but we were off to Jamaica without incident.  Upon landing in Jamaica it was absolutely POURING rain and when I finally met up with my friends they told me I had missed nothing because they all just sat around hiding from the rain and waiting for me to show up.  Everything at the resort was super slippery and then we found out that Hanson had decided to shift the schedule and postpone the first nights show both due to the weather and maybe a little bit because so many people were still not there yet.  We walked the beach a bit and ended up having a group meal in the steakhouse as our room level waived the fee for the prime cuts.  Afterwards the resort had activities going on so we got to see some swimmers and dancers and by “got to see” I mean we really got to see as I spotted one of them in plain site naked and changing… and then a steel drum band in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes.  During the steel drum band Zac showed up and then we spotted Isaac at the karaoke bar and Taylor in the club.  It became a full on selfie fest and we just kind of sat back, drank, and watched it all go down, none of us getting any photos with any Hansons. (In fact of the 7-8 of us hanging out all week I was the only one to land a photo with a Hanson… more on that later.)

The next day winds still seemed to be too much to raise the roof on the stage and it was raining on and off so plan B went into effect – where we would have Zac’s solo show, Chris Carraba’s set and the “Rock All Night” set from Hanson in a green house.  I was lucky enough to be front row for all of it – and was thrilled when Zac awarded our “good behavior” with a song that had never been performed live before for us.  (As you know, my main goal for these trips is to hear songs I have never heard before, though the released songs that I have not heard are getting fewer and fewer.)  Afterwards we saw him and asked him what it was called and he just rubbed his fingers together and said “Haha” but we ended up finding a post on Hanson.net where we saw it was either called Fight Another Day or The Ballad of Seymour Better Times.  It’s currently the latter in the Hansonstage.com database but can be changed at any moment if needed.

I really was not sure what to expect as far as Chris Carabba.  He had come to my college one year and I made it to front row to see him but was just not impressed with him at all and we left early.  And talk about a full circle moment – that show was at my college with a friend I had met on Hanson.net to see Chris Carabba and while we were waiting to go inside she told me “You should come with us next time we go see Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers I think you will like him” and now here I was on an Island with Hanson, Chris and Stephen. Crazy. But I absolutely LOVED Chris and he was so adorable with how he was so excited that people were singing his songs back to him and asking for him to play certain songs and just generally enjoying his set.  I also liked when he said that he had only known 2 of the members of Hanson but today he met Zac and now Zac was his favorite Hanson (and then went on to mention both Isaac and Taylor were also his favorite Hanson’s)  I snapped a pic of Chris’ setlist, but he ended up mixing it up a bit so I can’t say for sure what all he did end up playing.

Then it was time for Hanson’s Rock All Night set.  The stage was awkwardly tiny but if that was potentially going to be my only front row experience of the trip, it was a great one to be right up front for.  I was able to see the setlist before the show started and was flipping out for “I Believe in A Thing Called Love” (which didn’t end up happening) and “You Shook Me All Night Long” (A never before done cover!) on the setlist as well as a few other fun rare songs mixed in as well. (One Taylor said they had not played in 5 years but I don’t know where he got his info from because hansonstage says otherwise! :P)  This set was a bit shorter than what we are used to and 3 songs on the setlist ended up being skipped but the guys did have Chris join them for Back to the Island which has become a staple of the event.

After the concert it was time for Cards Against Humanity with Zac, which was squeezed into the buffet area due to the weather and was overall just a really awkward set up.  We kept a penis tally because before the game got underway it seemed like it was going to be said a LOT…but the official tally was only 5 by the end of the night.  A fan had given Zac some Hanson-related cards for the game and I think that really brought things to a whole other level when you could play “Zac Hanson”, “Isaac Hanson” or “Taylor Hanson” as a response in addition to the cards that came with the game.  I was on the red team but it was the green team that was victorious.

The next morning we had tie dye with all 3 Hanson’s and I’m not all that impressed with my design for this year. There was a lot of white. I opted to not wet my tshirt before dying it because I was convinced that made things run too much but maybe I needed a bit of a happy medium instead.  A slightly damp tshirt.  I also was hoping for a blue and orange shirt and somehow ended up with yellow and then went with purple instead so my Mets shirt has instead become a Vikings shirt lol  The guys tend to mingle during this event but never really made it to our table (and when Zac did come by he was looking for blue dye which we did not have so he was innocently sent away to find it elsewhere never to return again)  One of the Island Gigs guys asked if we saw any Hansons and I said no, only to have him ask me which I wanted a photo with so I chose Zac and he took me over to him for a very awkward photo.  Zac seemed like he was over things at that point and the guys left shortly after.  We kept our shirts wrapped up for a couple days and I didn’t end up taking the rubber bands off until I was home this year – but I am not sure that helped much. We will see once it makes its way through a vinegar wash and the washing machine. (Which I may not get to for a while)

Then it was time for Taylor’s solo set.  Since the stage was roughly 40 paces from our back door, we opted to watch it all from our back porch.  Taylor came out, played a song, then took his shirt off (revealing a tank top underneath) and took off his shoes and socks and invited anyone who wanted to go in the water with him to go in. Then he played the rest of his set soaking wet.  His set didn’t have anything I hadn’t heard on it – however there was “Dream Girl” on his setlist that he had skipped which would have been a tick for me in the win column.  The rest of his set was a nice variety though and I enjoyed it.

Stephen Kellogg’s set was up next,  and we got a chance to talk with him a bit before it. He didn’t end up playing the song I had been requesting for him to play since last February, but he did end up adding in a last minute request for “Father’s Day” which had me crying.  I think that he won the crowd over as well and he did a pretty well-rounded set as well to give anyone who hadn’t heard of him before a good variety of what he’s all about.

Then it was time for the Members Only setlist. I was glad to not be up that close for this set because I never know all the words to these songs!  Each of the guys did a solo during this set and then Stephen Kellogg joined them for a song he wrote with them called Coming Back for More.  There was some debate over whether or not Isaac’s solo song was Members Only (Zac and I say no, Isaac says yes) but the one that was so clearly not a members only song was A Minute Without You which they played for the encore. Why? I don’t know.

After the shows was Isaac’s Family Feud activity which was also in the buffet and a lot of people did not stick around which was evidenced by the time it took for him to call out numbers of people who were actually present to end up on stage. (There’s got to be a better way to do that)  I am pretty sure all my friends who wanted to go on stage made it up for a round – but the funniest had to be when Rachel buzzed in to answer “What would you not want to happen to your taxi when you are on your way to the airport” with “Get lost!” and Isaac took offense thinking she was telling him to get lost… not that she was saying she didn’t want the taxi to get lost.  After 10 rounds it was tied 5-5 red vs green and it was RED that was victorious in the tie breaker round. A nice split amongst the teams.

Our last full day on the Island kicked off with group photos with the band where I told the guys a bit about all the snow we got and how my flights got delayed or canceled like 5 times.  Isaac did his solo set which consisted of a song that had lyrics down on the stage that he had written just a few weeks prior and a surprise song that he wrote on the spot during his set. I’m calling it “Isaac’s Jamaica Song” on Hansonstage at least until someone can convince me to name it something better.  He chatted a bunch due to needing to tune his guitar and said how singing happy birthday and the like is a stalling tactic (and then it was made clear that night during the full band set how often Hanson uses this tactic lol)  He had a really nice set as well and is pretty consistently my favorite solo set of of the 3.

 

The last show of the trip was “Singles” but it was expanded a bit to include songs that almost were singles or should have been singles just to more round out the set.  Of course, we thought we were all safe because With You In Your Dreams did not fit into any of the themes – but apparently they decided to consider it a single.  I once again found myself front row for this set and decided I could either sob the whole song or try to zone out and play on my phone and/or take photos.  I was victim of symbol face Zac for most of this show and during the beginning of the song he was leaning down so I could see him so zone out and take photos of Zac won and I managed to not cry. Phew.  The encore consisted of the only repeats of the trip – Back to the Island and You Shook Me All Night Long and they also actually did I Believe In A Thing Called Love this show as well.

During the last 2 nights on the beach – baby turtles started hatching and making their way to the water. I didn’t get to see any turtles in person (and being at a turtle hatching/release is for sure on my bucket list but I never thought I’d see it in Jamaica since it was not the reason for it!) but it sounded like they were able to make sure quite a few got to the water and hopefully they are doing all right out there!  Hanson dedicated I Was Born and renamed it for the evening The Ballad of the Baby Turtles.  (Don’t underestimate the sting of the baby turtle!)

After the show it was the after party – and there were even some dancers for some of the songs! (like one of my favorites, Pony) Where we were alerted via social media that there was an earthquake in Honduras which was putting some of Jamaica under a tsunami warning.  No one seemed concerned but now I have attended Taylor’s after party in both a tornado and a tsunami warning.

There were a lot of “wild life” encounters – I fell after being chased by a cockroach (which got my heart rate up to 119 as opposed to the 95 it seemed to max out at during any of the Hanson shows), there was a GIANT grasshopper in our bed, there was a lizard on the ceiling, there was a tiny lizard on our back porch, I found some weird looking bugs and caterpillars, I also spotted a hermit crab. Snails. A pig… cats.. goats… I’m not sure what else I am forgetting.

Wednesday we got up and had breakfast, checked out of the hotel, hit up the gift shops and made our way to our shuttle back to the airport 🙁  Security is always a pain in the butt and this time they wanted me to walk through the metal detector with no shoes on and using no cane.  Once it was explained that this was not going to end well for anyone involved I compromised to take my shoes off if I could use the cane – and needed a pat down anyway so the whole activity was pretty pointless.  I did however have a lot of fun people watching an entitled woman who needed wheelchair assistance think that she should be the first on the plane because she was the first to the gate (She was second to last, I was last of the preboarders. We both ended up in the 2nd row of the plane so what’s the big deal?)

This trip was by far a lot different than any of the previous 5 – and I took the least photos I have probably ever taken in my life (Hanson photos not included) mainly because my camera was always in my bag and I spent most of my time walking around trying to make sure I wasn’t going to slip and fall on wet decorative tile.  I enjoyed the new resort and wouldn’t mind seeing it being held there again for 2019 but I think that the Jewel where it was last year was probably my favorite of all the resorts.

Category: Back To The Island, Concert, Hanson  Comments off

Hanson Chicago – Finally It’s Christmas Tour

Hanson in Chicago was another crazy weekend. Once again I had a super crazy early flight after a concert the night before.  I got into Chicago around 8am, met up with my friends who were already there for the Friday show the night before and we did all sorts of sight seeing like going to Macy’s windows, The Bean, Millenium Park’s Christmas Tree, Target, and an insane crazy insane Christmas Market that had more people in an area than I ever wanted to be with so we did not stick around very long.  We also decorated stockings that we were going to hang from the VIP box we had purchased. It was a crazy plan and one that we just hoped would work out. That evening we went to Lou Malnati’s for some deep dish pizza which even though I am not a pizza fan I had to try and I have to say I was impressed.  Maybe the problem is I need to trade in my New Haven style pizza for some Chicago style.

The morning of the show we didn’t need to bother waiting in line since we had the box, so we went to the Hancock building and did “TILT” Now, my biggest fear is falling so leaning 45 degrees out of a window of the 90-something-ish floor of a building was a major challenge for me (especially when I have little to no upper body strength and had to try and hold my self up as well) but I did it. Do, Go, Be, right?  Then we went to Navy Pier and rode the ferris wheel.  After the first go-around we were like “Once, that’s it? Rip off!” By the time we actually went around a 3rd time we were pretty happy with it letting us off then, but it was a fun way to see the city.

That evening was the Christmas show and everyone was tweeting the guys asking for Happy Christmas.  They hadn’t played it since that first show in Toronto but usually Chicago shows get something special so I was hoping that would be it.  No such luck, though 🙁  (And then they did it the 2 shows after. I missed 4 shows on this tour and they played it at 3/4 of those shows. Thanks guys, really.)  Our stockings worked out quite well and in the photo gallery you can see Taylor pointing them out.  The setlist for this show was pretty much the same as the rest, but during the encore the techs were putting towels over Taylor’s keyboard and some of Ike’s pedals.  What was that all about? What did it mean?  Well – there was SNOW! During Blue Christmas.  So even though the setlist was basically the same – each of the 4 shows I went to being a little bit different, and that is why I keep going to multiple shows on a tour.

After the show we hung around in hopes of getting photos with the guys, but unfortunately all we did was see them drive off 🙁 They ended up tweeting that they had an early flight out to Los Angeles and couldn’t stick around.  0-2 on bus attempts. At least it was not as cold as when we waited in Toronto!

Finally It’s Christmas
What Christmas Means To Me
Little Saint Nick
Rockin Around The Christmas Tree
Run Rudolph Run
Please Come Home For Christmas
At Christmas
Someday At Christmas
White Christmas (acapella)
Joy To The Mountain (acapella)
Peace On Earth
Christmas Time
Wonderful Christmas Time / Come On It’s Christmas
Merry Christmas Baby
Winter Wonderland
All I Want For Christmas Is You
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
‘Til New Years Night
Everybody Knows The Claus

Encore:
Blue Christmas (With snow!)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

 

 

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